How Do I Know This Is a Good Idea?

Jan 2014

Note: I originally wrote this article just prior to pressing pause on PublicBeta.

In hindsight - and reading this - I can totally see how obvious the things were that I was battling with at the time and how my own fears and uncertainties translated into questions like these.

That said though, I think there's something really valuable about this question and the way I at least tried to answer it back then.

Fact is that our own fear of failure and our perception of the things we do, causes massive self-doubt.

From experience, that self-doubt never goes away on its own and it's not an automatic process where you just magically feel more confident one morning you wake up.

Instead, you'll feel super-confident on Monday and super-shit on Tuesday by lunchtime. That's the nature of the beast.

But in answering this question in this way, I almost managed to dig myself out of the hole that I had found myself in.

How Do You Know This Is a Good Idea?

I'm sure that you have had this exact question (about your current project/pursuit/startup) as I have had: "Is this really a good idea?"

In the last couple of months, I've asked myself that question so many times about PublicBeta: Is it a good idea? Do I really see this working? Can I realistically believe that this can become a sustainable business?

Simply put, credit card details and actual revenues are always a sure sign that you are onto something. But in terms of really knowing (like you are 100% sure), that's probably not the silver bullet.

Instead I've been taking a more holistic view as to whether this thing I'm working on is actually a good (and potentially, sustainable) idea:

  1. We have early revenues, which means cash in the bank.
  2. We have a growing and engaged initial community, who believe what we believe.
  3. Most of our early revenues came from a pre-MVP validation test. And the signups since have joined a very hacky, MVP-orientated product.
  4. Our engagement metrics are positive without being spectacular (i.e. the signals are there that we are onto something, without us yet changing habits / behaviours).
  5. Our messaging and value proposition is very hacky, lengthy and vague, yet we are already finding like-minded people who will pay for this thing we're building.

When I first wrote down that list, I looked at stuff like #1 & #2 above and felt that that was kinda obvious. But the rest wasn't that obvious; at least not on the surface.

There's something that should be said about (validated) traction that you can generate when the product (UI / UX) is still very painful to use. If people are willing to jump through hoops to a) pay you; and b) use your product, then surely the idea ain't half-bad.


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